Not too long ago it would have been very difficult to make a connection between Tim Tebow and the New York Jets, and admittedly the one that’s about to be made is a bit of a reach. But that’s never stopped me before.
Long before #Tebowtime and Tebowmania, insults were hurled at Denver’s future quarterback saint on a near daily basis in August during training camp. Those verbal barbs climaxed when Tebow was reportedly being viewed as the Broncos’ fourth-string QB, which signaled that we had officially crossed the Rubicon and reached the point of absurdity. At the time we had no idea what was about to unfold this season in the Mile High City, but sensible minds knew that no matter how much John Elway hated Tebow, no one buries a first-round quarterback that low on the depth chart after he’s started just three games.
We’re in Day 4 of the Jets’ offseason, and already it feels like we’re crossing that same plane, and entering a place where unless the harsh words are coming from players or coaches (i.e. Greg McElroy yesterday), it’s all white noise. And in the center of that blinding whiteout is Mark Sanchez.
Former Jets are now leading the volcanic eruption of venom, starting with Boomer Esiason yesterday and his assessment of Sanchez’s late-season play, a rant highlighted by a comparison between the 25-year-old quarterback and a chihuahua. Next up was Kris Jenkins earlier today, the former Jets nose tackle who retired prior to this season due to recurring knee problems.
Jenkins supported McElroy’s comments during a radio interview with ESPN’s Mike Lupica, eloquently saying that Sanchez needs a little more testosterone in his life.
“The No. 1 quarterback should have said that a long time ago. It would have been all part of the process of him growing a pair and standing up and being a man. But the thing is, he lost his because he got caught up in the wash that is New York, the spotlight, taking pictures in the magazines and doing all that stuff. That’s just what everybody has seen with Mark Sanchez, they got tired of it.”
We understand that the quarterback is seen as the pillar of leadership on any football team, especially on offense. And the majority of time that’s an easily justifiable stance. The entire offense quite literally flows through the quarterback’s fingertips on every play, so a high degree of accountability and responsibility is part of the job description.
But in a mostly young locker room where the average NFL experience is 3.75 years, accusing a player who just completed his third season of misplacing a few peanuts is a classic case of misguided criticism. That’s particularly true when Santanio Holmes has been the catalyst for the Jets’ quick offseason detonation, and he’s a team captain who’s been in the league twice as long as Sanchez.
Sanchez certainly isn’t free of responsibility. He could speak and toss some cold water on the growing Jets fire, but more weigh will be given to the words of veteran players. LaDainian Tomlinson played what could be more than just his last game as a Jet, but also the last game of his career Sunday, and he wasn’t afraid to be candid. Ditto for Wayne Hunter.
In fairness and to further refute Jenkins, Sanchez did speak earlier this week, taking ownership of his status as a leader, and attempting to begin the mending of bridges by saying the team “has to make things work.”
Others like Bart Scott and Darrelle Revis have been silent after directing their vocal outbursts at the opposition all year, with Scott refusing to speak with the media during locker clean-out day, and then paying the price for his one-fingered wave good-bye.
If that’s the conduct of the average veteran in the Jets’ locker room, the size of Sanchez’s lower region and the amount of times he’s appeared in GQ are of little significance. Tom Brady posed with a baby goat, and he’s still a heroic leader of men.